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Redskins' cornerback Rogers might start against Cowboys

Benched player is eager to bounce back in Dallas

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By Rick Maese and Jason Reid
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Since his rookie season in 2005, Carlos Rogers has started all but two of the 47 games in which he has played. So as the Washington Redskins began installing their game plan for the Dallas Cowboys, it's probably no surprise that Rogers prepared as he always has -- to be the starter, even though he has received no such assurance.

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"I don't expect to be on the bench," the fifth-year cornerback said.

After practice on Wednesday, coaches said they haven't decided who will start at right cornerback in Dallas, though they were pleased with the way Rogers responded to being benched in Sunday's game against Denver.

Rogers practiced with the starters Wednesday, but Fred Smoot, Justin Tryon and Lendy Holmes, who was signed off the practice squad last weekend, took repetitions with the first team, as well. Redskins coaches were pleased with Rogers's effort and attitude at practice. Coach Jim Zorn said Rogers "responded like a real professional."

"He didn't skip a beat. He wasn't pouting at all," Zorn said.

Secondary coach Jerry Gray said even if Rogers doesn't start against the Cowboys, he should see playing time.

"If you're any type of fighter, you're going to respond and fight," Gray said. "And I think that's what he's going to do. We'll see on Sunday. The guy has too much talent, too much athletic ability, and I think, too much fight to not be on the football field."

Rogers's continued struggles highlight the team's recent secondary woes. Statistically, the Redskins have the league's top-ranked pass defense. They're allowing only 162.7 passing yards per game and opponents' 148 completions against the Redskins is also a league best.

But those numbers are slightly skewed. As the Redskins have consistently fallen behind early week to week, opponents have turned to the ground game more than the passing attack. Washington foes have attempted only 252 passes in nine games, which is third fewest in the league.

FootballOutsiders.com seeks to more accurately gauge defenses with DVOA -- defense-adjusted value over average -- which takes into consideration a team's strength of schedule and compares each play to the league average based on situation. Based on each team's DVOA, the Redskins have the league's 18th-ranked defense.

The team's problems have been hard to miss in recent weeks. In each of the past three games, Washington has allowed an opponent to score two touchdowns on plays of 30 or more yards. Two of those six scores came against Rogers.

Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson beat Rogers on a double-move for a 57-yard touchdown in Washington's Week 7 loss to the Eagles. And then last Sunday, on Denver's first possession, wide receiver Brandon Marshall burned Rogers with another double-move, this time for a 40-yard score.

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